Thursday, April 22, 2010

NABCA Conference for 2010

The 13th annual conference of the National Association of Branch Campus Administrators (NABCA) was held in Tulsa, last week. We were hosted by Northeastern State University-Broken Arrow, and the folks there did a great job. As far as I could see, everything went smoothly, pretty much on time, and met the needs of participants.

I thought the program was especially good, this year. We had some folks moving to new positions during the year, and that could have had a negative effect on the event, but if it did, I sure didn't recognize any signs. Cece Rivers, our president, from the University of Central Florida, presided over the conference with the efficiency that I've recognized in her for years.

We were welcomed by Northeastern president, Don Betz, and from his remarks, I feel sure that the Broken Arrow campus will continue to thrive and to serve the region creatively and effectively. The Broken Arrow Campus story is a great one of university-community partnership and rapid growth in an underserved area.

We had two excellent keynote addresses, from Trevor Wilson and Gary Conti, that engaged the audience effectively. I enjoyed the fact that Trevor Wilson grounded his presentation in positive psychology. The impact of Phyllis Bebko, Florida Atlantic University, and her NABCA research committee also is becoming evident. Phyllis's work is a great example of the impact a "champion" can have, especially on a relatively small organization.

I believe we had about 66 attendees, which is smaller than a few years ago, before budgets had such a negative effect on travel, but enough to assure financial success and to allow for great networking. As always, the opportunity to meet people from around the country, who wrestle with similar challenges, is the highlight of the experience. I love watching first-time attendees, seeing their excitement and relief at having discovered so many kindred spirits. It could be that the therapeutic value of the NABCA and RBCA conferences is worth the price of admission, alone.

Next year, we are meeting in Seattle. That promises to be another great venue, and we hope to see more of our western states colleagues re-engage with the organization. After all, NABCA was founded as the WESTERN Association, and I've missed seeing more participation in recent years, as the conferences have been in eastern and midwestern locations. David Williams, University of Connecticut, is our new president. He has a number of years' experience with NABCA and as an executive committee member, so I'm sure he'll do a fine job.

Please make every effort to support this important organization, by attending the conference next year. I am confident that you'll enjoy the experience and learn much that is valuable from the presentations. These regional and branch campuses are a growing, critical part of higher education, and sharing ideas, finding colleagial support, and engaging in discussions about the future are helpful all around.

You can check out the NABCA web site, at You may also want to check out the RBCA site, That conference is coming up at its usual home on Longboat Key, June 20-23.